SQLBits is one of the best Microsoft data platform conferences around, and last week’s event in Manchester was particularly good. As usual, videos of almost all of the sessions are available for everyone to view for free online (no registration required) here:
There were lots of Power BI and Analysis Services related sessions, so I thought I’d call out a few:
If you’re interested in the new calculation groups feature in SSAS 2019 that I blogged about last week, you should definitely watch Christian Wade’s two-part session here and here (part two has all the juicy details in), which also gives some details about other upcoming features such as XMLA endpoints. Kasper’s session here covers a lot of the same topics.
There’s more insight into Microsoft’s Power BI roadmap and thinking in the Q&A session with Christian, Kasper and Adam here
Marco and Alberto always do great sessions, and Alberto’s session on Aggregations here and Marco’s session on many-to-many relationships here are up to their usual high standards.
My session on Power BI Dataflows here sums up my current thoughts about them.
Of course there’s lots more there (more than I have had a chance to watch) so let me know if there are other sessions that are good!
If you’re learning Power BI and you want to deepen your understanding of its data transformation and loading functionality, the Power Query engine and the M language, I’m doing one-day pre-conference seminars on this subject at three conferences over the next few months:
SQLKonferenz in Darmstadt, Germany, 19-21 February 2019 (see here for more details)
SQLBits in Manchester, UK, 27 February-2 March 2019 (see here for more details)
If you have some training budget to spare why not come along to one of the pre-conference seminars/training courses I have coming up in the next few months? Specifically:
Introduction to Azure Analysis Services – a pre-conference seminar on Thursday 22nd February at SQLBits 2018 in London. You’ll learn about what Azure Analysis Services is, why you should use it and how to build Tabular models for it. More details and registration here.
Power BI for analysts and developers – a three-day course covering the whole Power BI development lifecycle in Herzliya, Israel, on March 12th-14th. Full agenda and registration here.
Loading and transforming data in Power BI and Power Query – a pre-conference seminar on Friday 23rd March before the Dutch Power BI User Day in Utrecht. It will cover everything you need to know about the Query Editor in Power BI and Excel, going from the basics to more advanced topics such as parameters, functions and the M language. Full agenda here.
Incidentally, if you’re in London for SQLBits don’t forget to come to the London Power BI User Group meeting on Wednesday 21st February: I’m doing a panel discussion with various other Power BI folks. I’m also going to be speaking at the Dublin Data and BI Summit (run by the Power BI User Group) at the end of April, and at several other user groups later in the year; follow me on Twitter (I’m now @cwebb_bi) to find out the details when they’re available. I hope to see you at one of these events!
I’m pleased to announce two in-person training dates in London next year.
First of all, I’ll be running a three-day “Introduction to Power BI” course from January 29th to January 31st 2018. Suitable for BI pros, analysts and anyone who needs to use Power BI to build reports, I’ll be covering data loading, data modelling, a bit of M, a lot of DAX, report design, publishing, security and administration. Full details and registration can be found here:
…but, to be honest, there’s likely to be a lot of cool new functionality released for Azure SSAS between now and then so that will all have to be fitted in too. SQLBits is, of course, the biggest SQL Server/Microsoft data platform conference in Europe, ridiculously good value for money and loads of fun. Pricing and registration details can be found here:
There haven’t been any really big BI announcements at the PASS Summit this year – I guess we get so much amazing new stuff every month with Power BI that there’s no need to make ‘big’ announcements at conferences any more. However there have been several cool new features unveiled that I thought it would be good to highlight.
Azure SSAS automated scale-out
I’m a big fan of Azure SSAS, and what I particularly like is the way the dev team are making tasks that are complex with on-premises SSAS much easier when you go to the cloud. SSAS scale-out is a great example: on-premises you have to solve this by buying multiple servers, licensing and maintaining multiple instances of SSAS, and then setting up network load balancing on top of them. Today the Azure SSAS team announced their automated scale-out feature is live, and now all you need to do to scale out is drag a slider to the right:
Of course this is all scriptable too, so if you know you need to have to handle more users on a Monday morning you can scale-out appropriately and then when the rush is over you can reduce the number of query replicas and pay less.
Power BI Report Server
There’s a new release of Power BI Report Server available, and you can read all about it here:
The blog post highlights the fact that you can connect to SSRS shared datasets via OData – which is basically what I was talking about here.
Preview of in-memory/DirectQuery hybrid datasets
Christian Wade of the SSAS dev team gave a very cool demo of building Power BI reports on a trillion row dataset. Not many details are available about how this works, or when it will be released, but it seems to be through a feature where you can combine tables stored in-memory and tables that use DirectQuery storage (in the demo this was DirectQuery on Spark) in the same dataset. It sounds a bit like HOLAP: queries that request aggregated values hit the fast, in-memory data, but when you want to look at detail-level data queries use DirectQuery. Someone is very excited about this:
PowerApps/Power BI integration
Something that was going to be demoed – but the demo failed so we didn’t see it – was the promised integration between PowerApps and Power BI. Apparently this will be released soon.
ESRI Plus subscription for Power BI
Mentioned in the keynote but again with very few details is the fact that ESRI is going to offer a special subscription for users of the ESRI maps visual in Power BI. It looks like this is it and it is slated for release in November:
This full-day session will teach you everything you need to know about loading data into Power BI or Excel; it’s specifically focussed on self-service BI scenarios, but if you want to learn M for SSAS 2017 you might find some of what I cover useful too. Topics covered include using the UI to build queries; using parameters and functions; the M language; data privacy settings; and creating custom data connectors. I hope to see you there!
I can’t remember ever attending a conference where there was so much new functionality revealed. I’m not talking about things like Power BI Premium – that’s last month’s news – I’m talking about lots and lots of really cool new features that I had not seen before, so many that I feel completely overwhelmed by them all. There are a few blog posts out there that try to summarise the announcements (apart from the post on the official Power BI blog, check out Matt Allington and Dustin Ryan’s posts) but really your only option is to watch as many of the session videos as you can! I thought I would call out some videos about the new features for you to start off with:
The keynote on the first day was pretty amazing (Amir Netz’s demo should be watched in full) with some highlights being:
The PowerApp custom visual will not only allow you to embed a PowerApp directly in a Power BI report allowing users to write values back to the underlying data source, similar to writeback in SSAS
My star rating measure from this blog post has been turned into a Quick Measure! My name is in Power BI! I am so chuffed! The important thing here is that this is the first example of a calculation submitted to the Quick Measures Gallery making it into the product.
One major announcement (at least for me) that slipped out in the session on the Common Data Model is that there’s going to be a standalone, SaaS version of Power Query available that will be able to load data into the Common Data Model
Azure Analysis Services will soon have a much better web interface that will allow you to create simple models, and also to import models from Power BI .pbix files. Christian Wade’s session on Azure Analysis Services also has a great extended demo showing off new SSAS Tabular features, including one showing using BISM Normalizer to merge parts of a mode in a .pbix file into a Tabular model.
This is by no means comprehensive. I haven’t been able to watch all the videos yet either, so there may be other important new features in other sessions that I completely missed.
This is just a quick post to let you know about two webinars I’m presenting soon. First, on the 21st of June (today!) at 1pm PST I’m presenting a webinar on “Introduction to M” as part of the Power BI community webinar series; more details on it and how to register can be found here:
I’m going to be speaking at two SQL Relay events in October. SQL Relay is a series of one-day SQL Server events held in various places all over the UK and is always well worth attending. I’ll be speaking at:
In association with the nice people at SQLRelay I’ll be presenting an hour-long webinar on advanced SSAS Multidimensional tips and tricks this Thursday July 9th 2015 at 1pm UK time (that’s 8am EDT for you Americans). It’s free to attend and open to anyone, anywhere in the world. You can join the meeting by going to
The difference between Allowed Sets and Denied Sets in dimension security
Handling security-related errors in your MDX calculations
The different ways of implementing dynamic security
Why you should avoid cell security, and how (in some cases) you can replace it with dimension security
…and lots more.
If you’re in the UK, you should definitely check out SQLRelay, an annual series of one-day SQL Server events that happens at a number of different places around the country each autumn. For more details, see http://www.sqlrelay.co.uk/2015.html
I’m presenting this webinar in my capacity as a sponsor of SQLRelay, so expect me to spend a small amount of time promoting Technitrain’s autum course schedule. There are some cool courses on SSIS, MDX, SQL Server high availability and data science/machine learning coming up, you know…
UPDATE: you can download the slides and demos from the webinar at http://1drv.ms/1LYk1k8 and watch the recording at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cB9F6IVo7MA
For whoever was asking about using a measure group to store permissions for dynamic security, this blog post has all the details: http://bifuture.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/ssas-setup-dynamic-security-in-analysis.html